Deal signs attempt to fix developers’ tax break

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Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation Monday that attempts to fix a state law granting a lucrative tax break to developers of tourist attractions.

Deal put his signature on HB 318 at a signing event staged at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton.

The bill revises several provisions of the Georgia Tourism Development Act signed by Deal in 2011, which granted a sales tax exemption to developers who built and operated tourist attractions.

Because of technical flaws in the original legislation, however, no tax break has been awarded to any developers since the law was enacted.

HB 318 requires that each project will have to meet these criteria to qualify for the tax break:

  • Must cost a minimum of $1 million.
  • Must attract at least 25 percent of its visitors from out of state by its third year.
  • Must not directly compete with existing Georgia businesses.

“With these new incentives, we hope to grow the industry even more by encouraging the construction of new attractions,” Deal said. “An existing Georgia business, such as the Atlanta Motor Speedway, also stands to benefit if it chooses to significantly expand or improve its campus.”

The original tax break and HB 318 were both sponsored by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah).

HB 318, as passed by the General Assembly, also would create the Invest Georgia venture capital fund to invest in startup technology companies.

This part of the bill was originally introduced by Sen. Tim Golden (R-Valdosta) and strongly supported by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. A similar measure was sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon).

The Invest Georgia fund is shooting for an eventual capitalization of $100 million to invest in businesses located in the state, but legislators removed $10 million that had been put in the fiscal year 2014 budget for this purpose.

© 2013 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Allen Peake , developers , Invest Georgia , Nathan Deal , Ron Stephens , tax break , Tim Golden , tourist attractions , venture capital fund